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General Awareness

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General Awareness - Top Stories

27 Feb 2019

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

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May Offers MPs a Choice

  •  The campaigns to delay, modify, or even halt the British government's interpretation of Brexit gained a boost, as Prime Minister Theresa May said that she could offer MPs a choice of ruling out a no-deal exit, or a time limited-delay to Brexit.
  • The move comes a day after the Labour Party said that it would support the holding of a second referendum if the government failed to back its alternative vision of Brexit.
  • The developments come as Britain prepares to leave the EU in just over a month's time, so far without a withdrawal agreement amenable to both sides, and as the Prime Minister prepares to put the terms of leaving the EU to MPs in a meaningful vote on March 12. 

Trump and Kim Arrive for Summit

  •  North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and U.S. President Donald Trump arrived in Hanoi, ahead of a second summit closely watched for concrete steps to dismantle Pyongyang's nuclear programme.

UN Chief Asks India and Pakistan to Exercise Restraint

  •  UN chief Antonio Guterres appealed to the governments of both nations (India and Pakistan) to exercise "maximum restraint" to ensure the situation does not deteriorate further.
  • His remarks came after Indian Air Force (IAF) carried out a pre-dawn air strike on a terror training camp inside Pakistan.
  • The strike was the first by the IAF inside Pakistan after the 1971 war.

BUSINESS AND ECONOMY

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Three Banks Taken Off Prompt Corrective Action Framework

  •  Allahabad Bank and Corporation Bank, from the public sector, and Dhanlaxmi Bank from the private sector are now out of the Reserve Bank of India's prompt and corrective action (PCA) framework.
  • Earlier such restrictions were taken off  from Bank of India, Oriental Bank of Commerce and Bank of Maharashtra.
  • There are other six banks that are still under PCA framework.

Adani Wins Bid for Guwahati Airport

  •  Adani Enterprises Ltd. made the highest bid for the Guwahati airport, thus becoming a claimant for all the six airports offered by the Airports Authority of India (AAI) for operations, management and development for a period of 50 years.
  • The decision on awarding the airports would be taken by the Union Cabinet.

Global and National AAA Ratings

  •  In the wake of criticism that Indian credit rating agencies (CRAs) are liberal in assigning AAA ratings, rating agency Crisil Ltd. said that global and Indian AAA ratings were not comparable.
  • Comparing the 276 AAA ratings that Indian CRAs have assigned with nine by S&P Global Ratings or 53 by Moody's is erroneous.
  • It tantamount to equating differing scales such as Celsius and Fahrenheit.
  • If the 32,500 rated Indian firms were to be assessed on the global scale, their ratings will be boxed into a far more narrow-bound between BBB and D on the global scale, because India's sovereign rating (in the BBB category) will usually serve as a ceiling.
  • A national rating scale affords granular benchmarking of domestic issuers on a 20-point scale (AAA to D) and the sovereign, which has the flexibility to print local currency, is pegged at AAA on this scale. 

Organised Retail in India May Double by 2021

  •  Strong macroeconomic factors coupled with robust demographics and Internet penetration will fuel the growth of the retail market in India, which is third largest in Asia and fourth-largest globally after U.S., China and Japan.
  • According to a latest joint report by Deloitte and the Retailers Association of India (RAI), as Internet penetration increases in the country and more international retailers start operating in India, the share of organised retail market would increase from about 12% in 2017 to about 22-25% by 2021, which would partly also be driven by the growth of e-commerce market from $24 billion in 2017 to $84 billion in 2021.
  • The report pegs the growth in e-commerce market to factors like growing Internet penetration and increased usage of smartphones among others.

Max India Exits Health Insurance Business

  •  Max India sold its entire 51% stake in Max Bupa Health Insurance Co. Ltd. (Max Bupa) to True North Fund VI LLP for over Rs. 510 crore.
  • The transaction values Max Bupa at an enterprise value of Rs. 1,001 crore.

Foreign Shareholding Limit in Kotak Mahindra Bank

  •  The board of Kotak Mahindra Bank (KMB) has approved a proposal to increase foreign shareholding limit from 43% to 45% from with immediate effect.

SPORTS

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Makran Cup Boxing in Iran

  •  Commonwealth Games silver-winning duo of Manish Kaushik (60 kg) and Satish Kumar (+91 kg) led the charge as six Indian boxers advanced to the finals of the Makran Cup in Chabahar, Iran.
  • The other boxers who made the finals were Deepak Singh (49 kg), P. Lalitha Prasad (52 kg), Sanjeet ((91 kg), and Manjeet Singh Panghal (75 kg).

Manu and Heena Fail to Make 10m Air Pistol Final

  •  Indian star shooters Manu Bhaker and Heena Sidhu failed to qualify for the final of the women's 10m air pistol event of the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) World Cup at Dr. Karni Singh Shooting Range.
  • Manu posted a score of 573 to make a 14th-place finish, while Heena finished at the lowly 25th spot after posting 571 points.

NATIONAL AFFAIRS

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Punjab Border Districts on High Alert

  •  Punjab has put six of its border districts on high alert following the Indian Air Force's strikes on a Jaish-e-Mohammed terror camp in Pakistan. Ferozepur, Tarn Taran, Amritsar, Gurdaspur, Pathankot and Fazilka were on the list.
  • Officials said the deputy commissioners and the police chiefs of the border districts have been asked to put in place contingency plans to ensure the protection and safety of the citizens.

DEFENCE

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12 Warplanes Locked On to the Target

  •  Twelve Mirage-2000 combat jets of the Indian Air Force (IAF) armed with Israeli Precision Guided Munitions (PGM) took off from their Gwalior airbase on a crucial mission, cloaked in secrecy.
  • The multirole fighter aircraft flew over Himachal Pradesh and Kashmir before crossing into Pakistani airspace and striking the largest training camp of the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) in Balakot inside Pakistan.
  • The camp in Balakot, which was targeted, is JeM's major training camp. It's in proper Pakistan itself, close to Abbottabad infamous because of Osama bin Laden.
  • India's Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale termed the operation a "preemptive strike" that had become absolutely necessary after credible intelligence had pointed to the JeM planning more terror attacks across various parts of the country.

PERSONS IN NEWS

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First Indian in Top 10 Rich List

  •  Indian's richest individual Mukesh Ambani, CMD of Reliance Industries, figures in the top 10 richest individuals globally as per the 'Loong Palace Hurun Global Rich List 2019'.
  • Coming in at position eight globally, he is the first Indian to achieve this position and also the only Asian in this year's list.
  • His net worth is estimated at $54 billion (Rs. 3,83,700 crore). Mr. Ambani's net worth increased 20% in a year.
  • Jeff Bezos of Amazon, with net worth of $147 billion (Rs. 10,44,000 crore) retained the top slot for the second year running. 

Iran's Foreign Minister Resigns

  •  Iranian President Hassan Rouhani held back from accepting the resignation of his Foreign Minister, standing by a moderate ally long targeted by hardliners in internal factional struggles over a 2015 nuclear deal with the West.
  • The Minister, Mohammed Javad Zarif, gave no reason for his decision to quit when he announced his resignation.
  • But his move thrust the schism between Iran's hardliners and moderates into the open, effectively challenging Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to pick a side.

Israeli ex-Minister in Jail

  •  Israeli ex-Minister Gonen Segev was sentenced to 11 years in prison for spying for his country's main enemy Iran after a plea bargain in the case.
  • He had agreed to a plea bargain on charges of espionage and transfer of information to the enemy. 

AWARDS AND HONOURS

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Gandhi Peace Prize for 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018

  •  President Ram Nath Kovind conferred the Gandhi Peace Prize for the years 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018 at a function in Rashtrapati Bhavan, New Delhi.
  • The award ceremony saw the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
  • The awards were announced on January 16, 2019 by the Union Ministry of Culture. 
  • The 2018 Gandhi Peace Prize was conferred on Yohei Sasakawa, for 2017 was conferred on Ekal Abhiyan Trust, for 2016 was conferred on Akshaya Patra Foundation and Sulabh International, for 2015 was conferred on Vivekananda Kendra, Kanyakumari.
  • The awardees were selected by the jury under the Chairmanship of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. 
  • The jury comprises the Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, Speaker of Lok Sabha Sumitra Mahajan, Leader of the single largest Opposition Party in Lok Sabha Mallikarjuna Kharge and Member of Parliament, L. K. Advani.

GOVERNMENT POLICIES AND SCHEMES

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 Panel to Decide Criteria for N-E Beneficiaries

  •  The government has formed a three-member ministerial group to decide on the criteria for identifying beneficiaries from northeastern hill states for PM-KISAN, the cash-transfer scheme for small and marginal farmer.
  • In some parts of the north-east, land assets are typically community-held, rather than individually owned, making the process of identifying small cultivators rather complex and different from the rest of the country.
  • Agriculture minister Radha Mohan Singh, rural development minister Narendra Singh Tomar and minister for development of the northeastern region Jitendra Singh make the panel.

Nagaland Assembly Rejects Citizenship Bill

  •  The Nagaland Assembly has passed a resolution rejecting the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, amid a walkout by 26 Opposition MLAs.
  • The resolution denounced the proposed Bill stating that it cannot be implemented in Nagaland as it will impact the unique history and status of the Nagas under the Constitution.
  • The resolution also expressed solidarity with the States and communities of the Northeast in opposing the Bill, as it has the potential of changing the demographic profile, which will be against the interest of indigenous tribes and can divest them of their constitutionally guaranteed political, cultural and economic rights.

GENDER/ HEALTH/ EDUCATION

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Delhi to Get Two New Universities

  •  In a step towards strengthening higher education, the Delhi government has proposed two new universities in the national capital.
  • As per State Finance Minister Manish Sisodia, the University of Applied Sciences will help to change the way people see the professional courses.
  • The varsity will offer courses from the modular of three months to the Ph.D. and M.Phil level.
  • The second proposed varsity is for teachers' training.
  • The government will give tablet computers to all Class 11 and 12 students of Pratibha Schools and Schools of Excellence and those scoring over 80% in Class 10.

TOURISM AND HOTEL INDUSTRY AWARENESS

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Airline caterer TajSATS Gets New Identity

  •  Indian Hotels Company Ltd. (IHCL) of the Tata Group has unveiled a new visual brand identity for TajSATS, which controls about 45% of the airline catering business in India.
  • The launch of the new identity is a part of the ongoing evolution of TajSATS.
  • As per Puneet Chhatwal, MD and CEO, IHCL and chairman, TajSATS is currently the market leader in airline catering and we look forward to strengthening this further by unlocking its potential in non-aviation businesses as well.
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